Martial arts practice is very much a contact sport. Whether you’re grappling or striking, sweat is going to soak through your gear.
With such close contact to others, it’s both a courtesy and an expectation that you practice good hygiene yourself, and with your training gear.
While we expect to leave training sessions sweaty and probably not smelling the freshest, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take good care of our gear and clean it. Not washing kimono sets, rash guards, spats, gloves, pads or wraps can cause sweat and bacteria to get trapped in the gear and, you guessed it, smell funky.
Not only does this damage your gear, but fungus and bacteria can live in unwashed fabrics and surfaces, and this creates a hygiene concern for the whole gym. Let’s avoid that. Here are six ways for you and your gear to stay fresh on the mats:
Come to class clean
We all know how important it is to shower after training. A post-training shower helps ensure you wash off any potential bacterial or fungal infections.
But did you know it’s equally important to shower before training if you’re coming from previous physical activity, like weightlifting or running? Do your training partners a favor and rinse off before your second session. Most of us train on both sides of the gym, so if you’re going from a randori to Muay Thai, or from Kickboxing to a Jiu Jitsu class, take a quick shower in between; no one wants to train with a partner who’s already sweaty, and it helps keep the gym a hygienic place.
Trim your nails
Keeping your nails trimmed is an essential in grappling and striking. Long nails can scratch your training partners and put them at risk for bacterial infections. Trim your fingernails and your toenails before coming to class.
Need we say more?
Leverage laundry detergent add-ons
Your gear is going to get stinky after training, there’s no way around it. But that doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.
Disinfect your gloves and pads after class with disinfectant sprays and wipes. Let your gear air out outside in the sun from time to time. Wash your wraps, kimonos or rash guards in soapy water with a good detergent as soon as possible after training to prevent bacteria and smells from sticking in your clothes.
Laundry add ons like the Lysol® Laundry Sanitizer is specially formulated to kill 99% of bacteria that detergents could leave behind, plus it smells good. Regular laundry detergents with odor fighters like Tide PODS 4 in 1 Febreze Sport Odor Defense, Laundry Detergent Soap PODS are also a great option to keep your training clothes fresh.
Know when it’s time to let go
We all have that one favorite gi or rash guard we love to wear. But like most items, your gear also has a shelf life, both in terms of wear and tear, and smell.
If your favorite white gi is now a solid shade of brown or gray, or no matter how many times you wash it, it still doesn’t smell clean, it’s time to let it go. Know when you let your stuff go and replace it. If you’re caught in a pickle, we always have plenty of gear at our academy pro shops so you can swap out old stinky gear!
Know when to stay home
With any contact sport, the risk of spreading infection by skin-to-skin contact or through infected surfaces is high if personal hygiene is not practiced. If you notice signs of a possible rash, ringworm or staph on your skin, we ask that you please stay home until it’s treated so you don’t spread it to others.
If you have open wounds or cuts, we recommend not training until they are healed to help prevent risk of contracting staph. Knowing the signs of ringworm and staph are important to prevent spreading infections.
In the end, practicing personal hygiene and keeping your gear clean provides a better experience for you and your training partners. But beyond that, one of the biggest reasons personal hygiene is so important is that it maintains a clean environment at the gym, and reduces the risk of spreading fungal infections like ringworm or bacterial infections like staph. We want to make sure our community is healthy and your training partners keep coming back!